Today, December 10th, is the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
. Adopted by the member states of the United Nations in 1948, the UDHR
consists of 30 articles, which set out human rights fundamental to
the dignity and development of every human being.
Sixty years later, we live in a world where these basic rights are still neither universally respected nor legally mandated in many countries. We still have hunger, slavery and persecution. The rights to education, work, voting and religion are still abused. In the U.S., we have lived through a reign of Presidential imperialism that supported torture and surveillance; where the richest country in the world ignored the education of its children and the health of its elderly; where economic growth trumped economic responsibility; and where a country turned its back on genocide and environmental destruction.
On this anniversary, sadly, there is little sense of progress.
Still, we have hope for the United Nations. We have hope for a new American administration
. We have hope for the Kyoto Protocol
and the Millennium Development Goals
. But, mostly, we have hope in citizen initiatives
around the world, grassroot efforts to work in small communities, to affect change in small ways. We can only hope our governments will follow our lead with larger initiatives and systemic change.
Today should give us pause. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights deserves not only celebration, but our respect and our best efforts.